Polaris Observatory Association

History of Polaris Observatory Association

As the Polaris Astronomical Society of California developed from a small club to a strong, growing organization, some of its members felt the need for an observing station at which permanently mounted instruments could be used without the distractions usual at public star parties.

Instead of erecting a single large telescope, it was decided to acquire a dark site away from the city lights where participating members would mount and use their own equipment. As the first step, a nonprofit corporation was formed -- Polaris Observatory Association, Inc. (1964).

Our search for a site took us to mountaintops, mining land, and farms from Tehachapi to Mount Pinos. We hiked on pleasant summer evenings and through deep snow and cold winds, making observations both day and night to test seeing conditions.

Eventually we found a 1 1/3 acre property in Lockwood Valley, California (1965). It was purchased with a large donation by an interested benefactor. Each participating member was alloted a 10-foot square cement pad. Seven double pads were built first and later five more along the southern edge of our property.

A few years later (1969) a permanent house was built with a dome on the second story. Included in the house is a kitchen, family room, bathroom with shower, and a dark-room. A workshop with a lathe and drill press surrounds the concrete pier that rises to the second-story observatory. Later (1984) a bunkhouse was constructed providing four bedrooms for overnight accommodations.

The following pictures illustrate some of the history of the Polaris Observatory Association.

1965 - Puchase of land in Lockwood Valley, California as dark observing site for organization.

The year is 1965, no buildings yet, just dreams.

1972 - Buildings at POA in Lockwood Valley.

The year is 1972, site full of telescope pads, house and enthusiastic astronomers.
Photo by Mary Firth.

1976 - Pictures of Fred Larsen and Len Kalish at their telescopes.

Fred Larsen with his 12 1/2-inch Cassegrain telescope.
Photo by Dennis di Cicco of Sky & Telescope Magazine, February 1977 issue, page 115.

In the the Parabam dome, Len Kalish uses his 8-inch Tinsley Cassegrain for photometry to determine asteroid rotation periods.
Photo by Dennis di Cicco of Sky & Telescope Magazine, February 1977 issue, page 115.

This site is under construction and in search of pictures and historical accounts of the history of POA.

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